IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS DATED : 21.08.2012 CORAM THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE K.CHANDRU W.P.No.18618 of 2012 S.Ganesh Ram .. Petitioner Vs. 1.The Vice Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Dr.M.G.R. Medical University, Guindy, Chennai-600 032. 2.The Examination Discipline Committee (EDC), Tamil Nadu Dr.M.G.R. Medical University, Guindy, Chennai-600 032. 3.The Controller of Examination, Tamil Nadu Dr.M.G.R.Medical University, Guindy, Chennai-600 032. 4.The Dean, Stanley Medical College, Chennai-600 001. .. Respondents This writ petition is preferred under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for the issue of a writ of certiorari to call for the records relating to the impugned order of the third respondent (Memorandum, Ex1(4)/07295/2012) dated 14.6.2012 confirming the decision of the second respondent dated 31.5.2012 and to quash the same and consequently to direct the respondents to publish the result of the M.B.B.S., final year Part-II examinations held in February, 2012 taken by the petitioner. For Petitioner : Mr.D.Lingeswaran For Respondents : Mrs.Narmadha Sampath, Standing Counsel for RR1 to 3 Mr.V.Jayaprakash Narayanan, Spl.G.P for R-4 - - - - ORDER
Whether the movies like Munna Bhai, MBBS and Vasool Raja, MBBS is based on fact or fiction? The question in this case reflects the story line of the film in which the hero of the film uses a hi-tech device for copying in the examination and get his MBBS degree. The present case also showed that the petitioner and 7 others have used similar techniques for writing their examinations. One of them has come forward to challenge the action initiated by the University in this writ petition.
2.This writ petition is filed seeking to challenge an order passed by the third respondent Controller of Examination, Tamil Nadu Dr.M.G.R. Medical University, Chennai, dated 14.6.2012. By the impugned order, the petitioner was informed that the University had received a complaint from two students of Stanley Medical College, Chennai regarding copying using Hi-Tech equipments in final MBBS Part-II Examination held during February, 2012. The matter was taken by the Examination Discipline Committee (EDC). Based on the recommendation, an Expert Committee was constituted which upon scrutinizing the answer sheets of the petitioner, found evidence that the answers could have been dictated. This confirmed that he was involved in Hi-Tech copying. As it was a major malpractice as per the statutes of the University, he was informed that as per the statutes and recommendation of the Examination Discipline Committee, the examination taken by him during February, 2012 stood cancelled. He was also debarred to write the University examination for three subsequent sessions. He would be allowed to take the next examination only in February, 2014.
3.Subsequent to the impugned order, the petitioner sent a representation, dated 18.06.2012, stating that the committee had never made any enquiry with him and had not seized any incriminating materials from him. Only at the instigation of the University's Vice Chancellor, i.e., the first respondent and one Dr.Manickavel, with a view to take revenge on him, the case of copying has been foisted on him. Therefore, he sought for certain documents listed therein including the complaints received and the University's letters, minutes of the examination discipline committee, medical faculty experts opinion, standing council opinion, interim report received from the Cyber Crime Department and the letter sent by the Dean, Stanley Medical College. However the petitioner by a communication, dated 19.6.2012, was directed to be present in the meeting hall of the University on 21.06.2012 to explain the facts of copying in the examination held during February, 2012. However, instead of attending the enquiry, the petitioner has chosen to come before this court
4.When the matter came up on 20.07.2012, notice on admission was granted by this court. Mrs.Narmadha Sampath, learned Standing Counsel for the University was directed to get instructions from the respondents. On notice, a counter affidavit, dated 24.07.2012 was filed on behalf of respondents 1 to 3.
5.It is the stand of the petitioner that he had joined the MBBS course during the academic year starting from 2007 ending in February, 2012. He had appeared for MBBS Part II examinations in February, 2012. The results were published in their website on 27.3.2012. But the petitioner's result was withheld. Likewise certain other students' results were also withheld. Subsequently, the media, both print and visual had reported regarding mass copying in the centre at Stanley Medical College during the examination held in February, 2012. The first respondent gave several interviews to the media stating that a shirt containing an attached wire and a blue tooth device was confiscated from the college hostel and several students have used the hi-tech instruments for copying. A complaint was also made to the cyber crime. The results were withheld for about 10 students and they were enquired by the respondents. They also submitted a representation, dated 31.3.2012 to publish their results. As the results were not published, he sent a further representation. He came to know only by the impugned order that complaints were received from two students for using the hi-tech equipment and that the matter was enquired by the Examination Discipline committee. The committee had scrutinized the answer sheets and found evidence as the answers could have been dictated. It was on that basis, the examinations taken by the petitioner during February, 2012 stood cancelled.
6.It was stated by the petitioner that there was no proper complaint against the petitioner by the Chief Superintendent of the hall and no incriminating materials were seized. The order was passed on an assumption. The petitioner cannot be blamed for writing answers as found in the answer book as the evaluators encourage students to memorize the answers and to reproduce the same as it is. The petitioner was also trained in such a way to write the answers as found in the book to score high marks. He had secured high marks in 10th and 12th standards. His memory has been appreciated during his school days. The punishment imposed was not in conformity in the statutes of the university. One Dr.Manickavel who was allegedly related to the Vice Chancellor had threatened the two students and had obtained complaints from them. The impugned order came to be passed without furnishing the copies of the report and without giving him an opportunity.
7.In the counter affidavit filed, it was stated that on 02.02.2012, an anonymous call was received regarding some students in the hall were indulging in copying through mobile phones and blue tooth accessories inside the examination hall with hi-tech devices. Subsequently, one student from Stanley Medical College had submitted a list containing the names of 10 students who were indulging in copying. The name of the petitioner was also found in the list. The student had also handed over the materials used for copying through e-mail. Immediately, the University had convened the Examination Discipline committee to call for a detailed enquiry. An explanation was also received from the 4th respondent. The University also in view of the hi-tech devices used had approached the cyber crime to proceed with the investigation. The Examination Discipline Committee which was convened from time to time had enquired into the issue. Simultaneously, the Cyber crime police had also investigated the matter. The incriminating materials were handed over to the Cyber crime Department for investigation. Due to the investigation pending, the result of the petitioner could not be published. Based on the prima facie materials, the results were withheld by the university while the results of the other candidates were published.
8.It was also stated that one Arif Mohammed had filed a writ petition before this court being W.P.No.10928 of 2012 to consider the representation and to publish the results. That writ petition was dismissed by this court on 27.4.2012. Subsequently, the university had taken steps to prevent such future copying and had directed all examination halls to be fitted with mobile phone jammers. The Post graduate examination centres were also inter-changed among three city medical colleges. The vigilance squad was also appointed for the examinations held during April, 2012. The Inspector of Police, Cyber Crime had submitted an interim report on 10.05.2012. The operative portion of that report reads as follows :
The call details of three Phone numbers which were allegedly used by the students for malpractice during the examinations were analysed and it was found that during the exam time there was unusually long duration calls (upto two hours). This creates a doubt if this call could be the call made to the student writing the exam by someone from outside the exam hall. So far we have not been able to fix any particular student who used these mobile numbers.
Though no particular student could be fixed for the malpractice in the examination, malpractice cannot be ruled out all together. The University may use the conventional method to identify the culprits by checking the answer paper for unique or peculiar features in the answer papers and take necessary action as per the existing law / rule governing the University.
9.Based on the report, the University had decided to obtain an opinion from the Expert committee in the speciality concerned to scrutinize the answer sheets. The Expert Committee from various subjects of final MBBS had scrutinized the answer scripts and found similar spelling mistakes with similar sounding, phonetics occurred in the answer scripts. It was also observed that many students had written same answers in the same order. The verbatim word of the Medicine Book authored by Davidson was reproduced in the answer scripts. It showed that candidates have indulged in hi-tech copying and that answers could have been dictated from some one. It was found that in the answer scripts of Arif Mohammed and Kathiravan, such discrepancies were not found. Therefore, on 31.5.2012, the Examination Discipline Committee had recommended to cancel the entire examination of other 8 candidates including the petitioner and to debar them from participating in three subsequent sessions as per the Statute 7h read with II(a) of the Annexure under the heading of major malpractice / use of unfair means by the students in the Statutes of the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University for Enforcement of Discipline in University examinations. Since the hi-tech copying was not established in the case of M/s.Arif Mohammed and Kathiravan, the committee had recommended to publish their results. The said report of the committee was approved by the first respondent Vice Chancellor. Subsequently, on 4.6.2012, the order was communicated to the fourth respondent. On 14.6.2012, it was communicated individually to all students including the petitioner. If any candidate is aggrieved, they can file a review application before the Vice chancellor. If the Vice Chancellor is satisfied that the representation merits consideration, he may refer the case to the Examination Discipline Committee for re-examination.
10.The Vice-Chancellor had forwarded the issue to the Examination Discipline committee for re-examination. The Committed had called upon those 8 candidates for an enquiry on 21.6.2012. except the petitioner, the other candidates appeared before the committee. Based on the statements obtained from the students and considering the future career of students, the Examination Discipline Committee had recommended to reduce the punishment from debarring them from three sessions to one session. The recommendation of the committee along with the enquiry statements of candidates were placed before the Vice Chancellor. The Vice Chancellor, considering that the issue was a sensitive issue and related to hi-tech copying, had ordered the matter to be placed before the Governing Council held on 27.6.2012. The Governing Council had resolved that the entire examinations of February, 2012 of these eight students to be cancelled and they may be debarred for only one session. Hence the debarred students including the petitioner can appear for the examination in February, 2013. This was also communicated to the candidates. It was further stated that the system adopted in the school could not be followed in the graduate level especially in the field of medicine. Though the order of the Governing Council was communicated, the petitioner had chosen to move this court on 17.7.2012 suppressing the modification made by the Governing Council. Since the order dated 14.6.2012 was modified, the challenge to the earlier order does not survive. Hence the writ petition does not deserve for any consideration.
11.Notwithstanding the same, the counsel or the petitioner strenuously argued that the method adopted by the respondents should be interfered with.
12.The learned counsel for the respondents also produced the entire answer papers and the proceedings in a sealed cover for perusal by this court. In this context, it is necessary to refer to certain decisions of the Supreme Court which dealt with copying in examination and the parameters of enquiry required in such matters :
13.The Supreme Court in a decision in Bihar School Examination Board v. Subhas Chandra Sinha reported in (1970) 1 SCC 648 in paragraph 12 had observed as follows :
12.These figures speak for themselves. However, to satisfy ourselves we ordered that some answer books be brought for our inspection and many such were produced. A comparison of the answer books showed such a remarkable agreement in the answers that no doubt was left in our minds that the students had assistance from an outside source. Therefore the conclusion that unfair means were adopted stands completely vindicated.
14.Further, the Supreme Court in Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education v. K.S. Gandhi reported in (1991) 2 SCC 716 in paragraph 22 had observed as follows :
22.From this perspective, the question is whether omission to record reasons vitiates the impugned order or is in violation of the principles of natural justice. The omnipresence and omniscience (sic) of the principle of natural justice acts as deterrence to arrive at arbitrary decision in flagrant infraction of fair play. But the applicability of the principles of natural justice is not a rule of thumb or a strait-jacket formula as an abstract proposition of law. It depends on the facts of the case, nature of the inquiry and the effect of the order/decision on the rights of the person and attendant circumstances. It is seen from the record and is not disputed, that all the students admitted the factum of fabrication and it was to his or her advantage and that the subject/subjects in which fabrication was committed belong to him or her. In view of these admissions the Enquiry Officer obviously did not find it expedient to reiterate all the admissions made. If the facts are disputed, necessarily the authority or the Enquiry Officer, on consideration of the material on record, should record reasons in support of the conclusion reached. Since the facts are admitted, the need for their reiteration was obviated and so only conclusions have been stated in the reports. The omission to record reasons in the present case is neither illegal, nor is violative of the principles of natural justice. Whether the conclusions are proved or not is yet another question and would need detailed consideration. (Emphasis added)
15.The Supreme Court in Union of India v. Anand Kumar Pandey reported in (1994) 5 SCC 663 in paragraph 9 had observed as follows :
9.This Court has repeatedly held that the rules of natural justice cannot be put in a strait-jacket. Applicability of these rules depends upon the facts and circumstances relating to each particular given situation. Out of the total candidates who appeared in the written test at the Centre concerned only 35 candidates qualified the test. In that situation the action of the railway authorities in directing the 35 candidates of Centre No. 115 to appear in a fresh written examination virtually amounts to cancelling the result of the said centre. Although it would have been fair to call upon all the candidates who appeared from Centre No. 115 to take the written examination again but in the facts and circumstances of this case no fault can be found with the action of the railway authorities in calling upon only 35 (empanelled candidates) to take the examination afresh. .......
16.Further, the Supreme Court vide its judgment in B. Ramanjini v. State of A.P., reported in (2002) 5 SCC 533 in paragraph 8 had observed as follows :
8.Further, even if it was not a case of mass copying or leakage of question papers or such other circumstance, it is clear that in the conduct of the examination, a fair procedure has to be adopted. Fair procedure would mean that the candidates taking part in the examination must be capable of competing with each other by fair means. One cannot have an advantage either by copying or by having a foreknowledge of the question paper or otherwise. In such matters wide latitude should be shown to the Government and the courts should not unduly interfere with the action taken by the Government which is in possession of the necessary information and takes action upon the same. The courts ought not to take the action lightly and interfere with the same particularly when there was some material for the Government to act one way or the other......
17.In the present case, nothing prevented the petitioner from appearing before the committee to explain his innocence. When an opportunity was given and it has not been made use of, there is no use in, later on, lamenting about the denial of opportunity. It is also seen that it is not as if the university is not alive to the situation. It has the balanced interest of students as well as the purity of the examination in future. While toning up the Hall in which the examinations are conducted and also recommending the change of centres, the University is also trying its best to prevent such hi-tech devices being used to defraud the examination.
18.In the light of the above, this court do not find any case is made out to interfere with the impugned order which was subsequently modified by the University and that the punishment was also reduced to the benefit of the petitioner. Hence the writ petition will stand dismissed. No costs.
1.The Vice Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Dr.M.G.R. Medical University, Guindy, Chennai-600 032.
2.The Examination Discipline Committee (EDC), Tamil Nadu Dr.M.G.R. Medical University, Guindy, Chennai-600 032.
3.The Controller of Examination, Tamil Nadu Dr.M.G.R.Medical University, Guindy, Chennai-600 032.
4.The Dean, Stanley Medical College, Chennai 600 001